‘He was a very vocal proponent of a united Ireland. He was pro the cause, but not the method after the Harrods bomb’
BAFTA winning actor Jared Harris has carved out a hugely successful acting career in recent years, emerging from the considerable shadow of his legendary father.
Now he has opened up to sundayworld.com on the security threat to his family after his father spoke out against the IRA after the Harrods bombing in 1983.
The blast killed three police officers and three civilians and though Richard Harris was a strong supporter of a united Ireland he went public to suggest he could not justify the bombing and the carnage it caused.
That led to fears that he could be targeted by the IRA, with Jared telling this website that he needed an armed guard with his father after his comments.
"I remember walking around New York City with armed guard accompanying us everywhere we went at the time when the threat was considered to be biggest," Jared told us, as he promoted The Ghost of Richard Harris, a new Sky Arts biopic film on his father's life.
"Prior to that, he was a very vocal proponent of a united Ireland. He was pro the cause, but not the method after the Harrods bomb.
"We were young, teenagers or maybe just in your 20s. You tend to think of yourself as immortal at that age.
"And I don't look back on it as an especially scary period. It was more dramatic in a way. Like it was something out of a movie and the good guys always survives. We had to believe that and thankfully it was true on this occasions."
Jared went on to recall his father's controversial comments, as he suggested they led to and interesting experience in his school days.
"He would come out with these controversial statements about Ireland or whatever and it would be all over the front pages of the newspapers," he continued.
"Kids would come up to you and say things about your Dad, but you would have to answer to his opinions.
"That was the man he was. He said what he thought and didn't worry too much about what others thought and he could get away with it.
"Frank Sinatra called it the room dropper quality and he had that. He had that star quality. You know that ones who have that immediately.
"As an actor, you only really got to appreciate, discover and understand the full range of his abilities and personality when he was on stage. On camera, he had to contain himself and pull it in.
"That kind of exhibitionism doesn't always relate to the camera because it is intrusive and retrospective. That kind of personality is much easier to appreciate in a live performance."
While Jared is proud of his Irish roots, he admits he "gave up" trying to claim to be Irish himself long ago, after being told he would never be accepted.
"I remember being in Ireland doing a movie and I said that I thought of myself as Irish," he added. "I was told quite bluntly that I needed to realise that I'll never be treated as Irish. I was not brought up there, I'm not part of the culture and that's it.
"They are completely right and while I have a tremendous love and respect for Ireland, I didn't grow up there. It's a little bit insulting to them if you have not grown up there.
"So while I'm proud of my Irish roots, proud of my fathers connections and I'll always be a Celt, you can't pretend to be Irish unless you have been brought up there, especially if you have an English accent.
"That's because of the history between the two countries and in Ireland, everything is very tribal. Especially when it comes to Ireland and England."
The Ghost of Richard Harris is available on Sky Arts now